I did not fully discover the powerful draw of the humanities until college.
I started out at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln as an engineering major, thinking that was the professional path I wanted to pursue. As I slogged through calculus, chemistry, and other engineering-related courses, I realized that history, literature, and political science were the subjects I really loved and flourished in. What began as academic misery transformed into sheer joy once I made the transition to the College of Arts and Sciences midway through my sophomore year.
I never looked back. Instead, I immersed myself in history courses on western civilization, the Renaissance and Reformation, Colonialism in Africa, and U.S. military history, as well as a variety of literature courses across cultures: Irish, Native American, Chicano, and English, American. I did not realize it at the time, but I was finding my soul’s purpose—and my future career—through this type of humanities coursework.
Those stimulating college courses may be an ever-more-distant memory, but thankfully there is no deadline or end-date on exploring great literature and periods of our history. It may be late at night after the kids go to bed, but I always find time to lose myself for a few minutes in a great book on some historical figure, event, or some other humanities topic that transports me to another time and place.
Chris Sommerich joined the staff of the Nebraska Humanities Council (NHC) as development officer in 2004, becoming development director in 2007 and executive director in 2011. He came to the NHC after four years of managing annual giving programs as development associate with Audubon Nebraska, the state office of the National Audubon Society. Chris has his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where as a graduate assistant he served as undergraduate adviser and teaching assistant for the Political Science department.
Chris currently serves on the board of Community CROPS, an organization with a network of community gardens and farmer training program particularly for low-income families, and as a scout leader and a TeamMates mentor. He is past president of the Nebraska Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), which emphasizes the highest standard of conduct in ethical and professional fundraising. He is also a member of the downtown Lincoln Rotary Club #14. Chris, his wife Vicki, and two sons, Eli and Benjamin, live in Lincoln.